It would not be an exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic will dramatically change the world, maybe forever. Almost every human on the planet has likely been impacted by the virus in some way. While the health crisis is not over yet, more people are gearing up for the reopening period. The reopening will not be done all at once. Instead, the government has established phases of reopening that will differ depending on the region you live in.
With reopening approaching, many businesses will need to undergo major changes to adjust to the world in a post-COVID-19 environment. If you are a business owner planning to reopen soon, consider a few of these resources to make your transition go as smoothly as possible.
Follow CDC Guidelines and Practice Safe Distancing
Even though your business or area may be deemed safe for reopening that does not mean that the virus is not a threat anymore. Many health experts have expressed concern with reopening too soon. If people do not practice the best health tips, even after reopening, the second wave of COVID-19 could arrive in the fall.
When your business decides it is time to reopen, don’t go in blind. The center for disease control (CDC) has published a list of tools and resources for businesses to use when reopening. Be sure to keep up on health trends in your area.
As your company moves forward with the reopening, be extremely mindful of germs and bacteria. A few things to consider investing in when reopening would be:
- More space — Your business space may be too cramped as of right now. A new office or better use of your current space could be useful.
- Hire a cleaning crew — Most offices use a cleaning service to maintain tidiness, but after COVID-19, every company should utilize a cleaning company.
- Contactless Technology — Investing in more touch-free sensors and equipment will keep the spread of germs down.
Besides investing intangible items for your office, updating your company’s health and safety guidelines may be necessary as well. For now, setting a capacity on the number of people within your business may be smart, if not required. As time goes on, you can loosen these restrictions and guidelines.
Have Emergency Funds Available
The COVID-19 situation has exposed just how fragile our society is. Just a few months ago everything was running smoothly, but now the world is in disarray. Businesses that make millions of dollars are filing for bankruptcy. If these major businesses are falling on hard times, what does that mean for small businesses?
Currently, most small businesses are scraping by with emergency government loans and grants, but how long is offering these low-interest, forgivable loans sustainable? Moving forward, have a plan in place when it comes to your business funds. Do not wait until you need funds to request them, because by then, it’s likely too late.
As reopening begins, you likely will realize that you need to buy a few things. Whether you need to purchase new CDC approved sanitizers, fund a rehiring effort, or pay back any debts you may owe, a small business loan might be necessary.
You may be hard-pressed to find a normal business loan right now. Many of the large scale national banks have put a hold on funding and some are not even taking new customers. Luckily, there are other ways to secure business capital. Online loan providers offer an array of business loans that can be applied for from the comfort of your home or office. Whatever route you choose, be sure to research each type of business loan to ensure that the loan is aligned with your business’s needs.
If business owners take anything away from this crisis, it should be that they need to have more capital options available in case the revenue dries up again. It seems that most businesses were not equipped to operate with limited cash flow for even a short period of time. Having extra cash in the bank or available could be the difference between your business making it through the rest of the crisis, or not.
Digital Communication Tools
We are lucky to live in a time where communication is so integrated within everything we do. As this crisis has forced people to stay home, communication has remained open and lively. As you continue to navigate the hardships of the situation at hand, be sure to invest in your communication efforts.
Communication is key when operating a company. Having transparency both inside and outside of the organization will keep things running smoothly and efficiently. As society becomes more fragmented, remain diligent with your communication efforts.
As your company returns to the workplace, not everyone will be comfortable going into a crowded public setting. If your organization can offer extended work from home policy, do so, just be mindful that it will make communication even more difficult. If you find that communication has fallen behind when reopening a virtual communication platform can help. Applications such as Slack, Zoom, or Google Hangouts are great ways to promote teamwork and transparent internal communication. When using these programs, remember to practice the best safety practices.
Besides internal communication issues, you may find that it is harder than ever to communicate with your customers. The best way to remain connected to your customer base is to be as available as possible. Be active on social media, offer extended calling hours, and be sure to publish business updates as soon as you can. As you roll out your reopening plans be sure to address a few things to your customers, including:
- Updated Hours — will your business be operating under new hours?
- In-Person Requirements — if your company has a physical storefront, will you require face-masks to enter your establishment?
- Product Availability — will everything your business usually stocks be available?
Again, being as transparent and upfront with each and every stakeholder will go a long way. The reopening will be difficult, but if you communicate effectively, your company will get through it.
Have a Crisis Plan for the Future
Life works in cycles — there are highs and lows. This applies to the business world as well. Every twenty or so years there is a catastrophic event that decimated the economy, but time and time again, we do not adjust.
Be proactive. Establish a crisis preparedness plan so that the next time something like this happens, either at a global scale or even just within your organization, you can adjust. If you are having trouble establishing a crisis preparedness plan, try doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis first. This will help you decide what is truly a threat to your business and what you do not need to worry about.
As you build your crisis preparedness plan, be sure to include all stakeholders in the business. Everyone from your entry-level employees to your Chief Operating Officer should be in agreement with the crisis plan.
If you are still having trouble creating a crisis plan, meeting with a public relations agency may be something that is worth exploring. PR agencies typically will be well versed in navigating both internal and external crisis situations. These agencies will be able to provide a fool-proof plan, but likely at a steep cost.
Just remember that the future is what you make it. While sometimes situations will be out of your control, it is what you do after that will shape the path ahead.